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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    December 3, 2013
    2:00 - 3:31pm PST  

out there, hollywood wouldn't touch. it. what kind of politician smokes crack and finds himself in the middle of a hot mess? oh. right. that guy. rogen tells canada's "globe and mail" the script has sold now after years of rejections. he believes toronto mayor's rob ford recent misadventures turned his old script into a hot commodity. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. new revelations. investigators announced they found no signs of problems with the brakes in the deadly train derailment. cnn learned what the engineer said about his state of mind only seconds before the accident. could it have played a role? candid clinton. the former president talking to cnn about the next race for the white house. will it pit hillary clinton against joe biden? red kettle robbery. heartless thieves steal christmas from needy families,
swiping thousands of dollars from the salvation army. but how did they do it? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." all that coming up. we begin with an american held captive in cuba since 2009. now begging president obama to personally intervene. 64-year-old alan fwroes sa gros country, quote, abandoned him after he was imprisoned for bringing communications items. joining us, jill dougherty with the latest. jil, what are you learning? >> alan gross says he's in a small cell with two other inmates. he gets about an hour a day outside in a very small courtyard. and he says other than a few phone calls and visits, he is completely isolated from the outside world. at the gates of the white house, the wife of alan gross pleads for the president to help her husband. >> please, mr. president, don't
leave alan to die in cuba. >> reporter: today marks the fourth anniversary of alan gross' imprisonment in cuba. arrested while working as a contractor for the u.s. government, bringing internet connectivity to cuba's jewish community. he was accused of trying to subvert the cuban revolution and sentenced to 15 years in prison. gross' family just released a letter from the 64-year-old to president barack obama begging the president to personally intervene. "with the utmost respect, mr. president, i fear that my government, the very government i was serving when i began this night marehas abandoned me," the letter reads. gross' wife says his life is in danger, that he's lost more than 100 pounds in prison. one year ago, gross spoke to cnn's wolf blitzer in a phone interview. >> what the cuban government would want in exchange for
releasing him? >> yeah, i think they'd want something that's completely unrealistic. since i'm not really a prisoner, i'm a hostage, i think that they took me with the idea of treadig me. >> reporter: secretary of state kerry says the obama administration still is trying to secure gross' release. >> we are currently engaged in some discussions regarding that which i'm not at liberty to go into in any kind of detail. but the bottom line is that we have raised these issues. >> reporter: former president bill clinton tells cnn gross' imprisonment is halting improvement in relations with cuba. >> you can't expect us to do much more now unless there's some resolution of some of these human rights issues. >> now, the state department says that u.s. officials visit alan gross monthly. they say the last visit was november 27th. next one that they're asking for is december 26th. and they insist that he remains
a top priority and they're working it diplomatically. wolf? >> jill dougherty with that back ground. thanks, jill, very much. joining us is judy gross, the wife of alan gross. judy, thanks very much for coming. >> thanks for having any. >> four years. how emotional is this for you? four years, your husband being held in cuba. >> it's emotional. it's very -- causes me a lot of anger i would have to say right now. i'm angry at the u.s. government. i'm angry at the cuban government. totally frustrated for this lack of action that alan is still in the same situation he was for four years. >> i understand your anger at the cubans. why are you angry at the u.s. government? you just heard john kerry, secretary of state, say they're doing whatever they can to get your husband out of there. >> this is something that i've heard for four years. it hasn't changed. i don't know what that means.
doing something. we have not been told what they're doing. so at this point, we feel that we have to step it up a notch and we are asking president obama to get personally involved in the situation and do what needs to be done to get him out. >> the cubans have made it clear, to me, i'm sure to you, and to others, they want cubans who are being held here in the united states convicted of crimes to be released and there would be a sort of trade. your husband goes back to the united states. they go back to cuba. is that what -- is that what's holding up this freedom for alan gross? >> well, you know, i have never heard the cubans actually say that. i don't know if they've actually come out and said we want the cuban four in exchange for alan gross. i met with the cuban foreign minister the last time i was in cuba with other officials, and what they have said is they have been asking over and over again for the administration to send an envoy to sit down with them
to start talking about these issues. and there's been no response from the government. >> because the -- when you say the envoy, the u.s. does have a diplomatic interest section in havana, so there are u.s. officials there who are working on behalf of your husband. >> they're not considered envoys, though. what we're talking about is somebody who can really go in and start negotiations with the cubans. >> well, i remember it wasn't that long ago, bill richardson, former u.s. ambassador to the u.n., he went to cuba hoping to bring alan gross out of cuba with him. they wouldn't even let him see alan gross. >> that's right. that's right. and he -- they got very upset with some of the words he used when he spoke. and so that was an excuse for him not to visit alan. >> so let's be precise. what would you like president obama to do? >> i think you'd have to ask him what it takes. i want obama to take alan seriously. to take the situation seriously. he's the leader of the nation.
he's the one who can go to the state department, to go to the justice department. whatever department's involved and say, let's make this work. he could do it tomorrow if he wanted to. >> but they all have issued statements that they would like alan gross freed. they're doing what they can. but they're not about to release those four cuban prisoners in the united states, if, in fact, that is the cuban demand. >> we don't know if that's the cuban demand, and as far as i'm concerned, and excuse me for sounding angry, but all of those statements have nothing behind them. >> now, the cubans have accused your husband of what? they say he came in and was delivering illegal equipment to the jewish community in ha van ma? >> his charges were interfering with the sovereignty of the government. you can take that whatever way you mean it. raul has -- >> raul castro. >> castro. sorry. has said in public that he knows alan was not a spy.
so alan is a hostage. >> how often do you go there to see alan? >> i saw him last in june. >> june of this year? >> we. i hope to go again this winter. >> and you meet with cuban officials when you're there as well? >> they're very cordial about -- >> what do they say to you, what do they say it will take to get alan free? >> they don't. they say they want to talk to our government. it's been the mantra over and over again. they want to talk with our government. >> there's not going to be an improvement in u.s./cuban relations as long as alan gross is being held captive. >> well, that's what i hear. but how can you improve any situation without sitting down and talking? it just doesn't work that way. >> so what's your final thought on this fourth anniversary of your husband's imprisonment? >> my final thought is that he stays healthy, he's not really that healthy. that he can hold on to hope. he's almost hopeless at this
point. that he doesn't suffer. those are primarily the most important things. and i hope that president obama will make this his personal responsibility to get on his case and get alan free. >> we hope he is free. we hope he is back here with you very, very soon. judy gross, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you. >> good luck. up next, the breaking news we've been following. what investigators have learned about that deadly new york train derailment and what the engineer has revealed about his state of mind. a briefing has just concluded. our own nic robertson is standing by with the latest. and will she or won't she? cnn asks bill clinton whether his wife will run for president again in 2016. ready to run your lines? okay, who helps you focus on your recovery? yo, yo, yo. aflac. wow. [ under his breath ] that was horrible. pays you cash when you're sick or hurt?
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we're following the breaking news. federal investigators just revealed they found no indication of problems with the brakes on that metro north train that derailed in new york city, killing four people, and injuring dozens. they say they're continuing to interview the engineer this afternoon and that he and the rest of the crew tested negative for alcohol use. one compelling possible clue has emerged. two senior new york law enforcement sources telling cnn the engineer told investigators at the crash scene that he was, quote, in a daze. that's a quote. in a daze just before the disaster. cnn's nic robertson is joining us from yonkers, new york, outside new york city, at the ntsb briefing. what else did we learn? >> reporter: well, we learned the ntsb has now looked at the signaling. they say that they found no
anomalies in the signaling. if we remember, the engineer was quoted as saying right after the accident that he applied the brakes, knock happened. the ntsb say they've had an examination of the brakes, and they feel that the results have come back showing that there were no problems with those brakes. this is what they said. >> we've determined that the metro north mechanical department performed a proper brake test prior to the accident train leaving the station, and there were no anomalies noted. based on these data, there's no indication that the brake systems were not functioning properly. >> reporter: well, the other thing that we learned from the ntsb is through their discussion with the engineer, william rockefeller, they say he was working a normal shift, that he was on the second day of a five-day shift. each shift lasts nine hours. that he runs this route on the track two times a day. he's been working this same route since the middle of
november that he's been a driver for, in fact, ten years now. and they say that as far as they're aware, he would have had adequate time between his shift the previous day and when he showed up for work four minutes past 5:00 sunday morning before driving the train away another 45 minutes later at 5:54. wolf? >> they also say at the briefing they have not yet completed the investigation into whether or not there was any evidence of drug use and they haven't completed the investigation whether he was using his cell phone texting or talking in the seconds leading up to that investigation. they're still looking into those two aspects, right? >> reporter: they are. they say that alcohol was not an issue, but they also say that they don't have the results back from the toxicology tests to determine whether drug use was involved with the engineer or any members of the crew. that's still something under examination here at the moment.
they have now begun more details analysis of the train, itself, but a lot of attention does now seem to be focused on the engineer, william rockefeller, to try to determine the explanation for what he's described now as being in a daze and not knowing what happened. a lot of attention during this ntsb press conference focused on trying to discover if the engineer, there was a specific reason why he would have going into a daze, and it did become clear that the last station that he'd stopped at was 14 miles before that curb, perhaps, as much as 15 to 20 minutes prior to the incident taking place, wolf. >> all right, nic, thanks very much. let's dig a little bit deeper right now with the former managing director of the national transportation safety board. peter, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you. >> all right. so let's not forget this train was going, what, 82 miles an
hour around this danger curve. and the speed limit was really 30 miles an hour. and yesterday, earl weener from the ntsb told me that it had actually slert accelerated fromo 70, then 82. clearly it couldn't handle that. if the brakes, if there are no anomalies with the brakes, peter, it looks like human error. is there any other possible cause out there? >> boy, i can't think of one. clearly this investigation is zeroing in on human factors, and on the actions of the operator. the brake systems on rail trains are robust, and they're redundant. it would have been highly unusual for them to fail. they're looking at the operator. what did he do? and they're going to be checking into that in-depth. particularly his sleep patterns over the last three days, any medication he's taking. whether he's suffering from sleep apnea. those kinds of things. and then, of course, as you mentioned, they're checking his
cellular records and whether there's any indication that he was distracted from the use of a personal handheld device. >> because there is evidence that there have been other train accidents because of an engineer was distracted using a cell phone. what's taking so long, though, you know, you could go to verizon, at&t, check the records. it's now been, what, 48 hours more and we still don't know whether or not that cell phone was being used in those seconds leading up to the accident? why does it take so long? >> well, i think there's two things going on. one is the ntsb is just naturally methodical. secondl ll ly secondly, there very likely is a parallel criminal investigation taking place. my guess is the bronx prosecutor is looking at this very carefully. >> because, if, in fact, if he was distracted, we don't know if he was, obviously if he was distracted by using a cell phone, that would be a criminal activity? that would be a crime? is that what you're saying?
>> there very well could be criminal charges growing out of this. if you were using your cell phone, if you were using a personal device, you were not tending to business, that very well could be criminal charges. >> and if he was simply tired, did not get a good night's sleep the night before and he says, according to our sources, he was in, quote, a dasze. what does that say to you? >> well, fatigue is an issue that the ntsb is focusing on in all modes of transportation. whether it's bus drivers are, airplane pilots, i mean, it is a tough issue. and we need to figure out the best way to combat fatigue, particularly in those hours from about 3:00 a.m. to about 6:00 a.m. and this, you know, operator was just outside the segment, but he showed up for work at 5:05 or 5:04. he probably left his house just after 4:00.
you know, there was a -- he was right in the center of what scientists call the real danger zone for fatigue. >> you heard earl weener, the ntsb investigator, say at the briefing that as far as the technology required to make sure these kinds of accidents don't occur, that technology is available to prevent derailments, prevent head of hn crashes if you will. for some reason, the technology is not on a popular route like this. why is that? is it simply a matter of money? >> well, well, it is partly a matter of money. you know, these commuter lines are borderline profitable operations. if that. many of them are subsidized. but it's awfully complex, positive train control. in europe, you have monopolies that are on the rail lines. so you have one operator, one type of equipment. on the hudson valley line, you have amtrak, you have metro
north, you have csx. at least three different operators, different types of equipment. and then most of all, wolf, it takes radio band to put positive train control in place. and the fcc has put a road block up on implementing it. since last may, they have not moved forward on approving applications for upwards of 20,000 new towers necessary for positive train control. it's a real problem. >> peter goelz is the former managing director of the ntsb. pet peter, thanks for your help. >> thank you, wolf. coming up in "the situation room," bill clinton versus hillary clinton. bill clinton talks about a potential white house rivalry that would pit his wife against his old friend and ally. plus, details of a shameful robbery. real life grinchs targeting salvation army, stealing christmas from needy families. every day we're working to be an even better company -
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look at that. good job. ♪ >> really beautiful sight here in washington. john boehner the speaker of the house orchestrating the lighting of the capitol christmas tree. an annual event here in the nation's capital. isn't that nice? beautiful christmas tree with the capitol dome right behind it. former president bill clinton speaking out about a possible white house run by his wife, and a possible rivalry with the vice president, joe biden should he decide to run for the democratic presidential nomination. again, let's talk about that and more with our cnn chief political analyst, gloria borger, our cnn political commentators paul begala and ryhan salam. thanks for coming in. i'm going to play the clip, cnn espanol anchor, juan carlos, had a sit-down one-on-one with bill
clinton today up in new york and had this exchange. >> is mrs. clinton running for president? >> i don't know. and i think, and she believes, that the country should spend at least another year working very hard on the problems we have. we have very serious challenges in america, and we have responsibilities around the world. i think it's a big mistake, you know, this constant four-year p campaign for america. we need to deal with the business we have before us. >> you buy that, paul? you worked with bill clinton and hillary clinton for a long time. when he says "i don't know whether she's going to run for the democratic nomination, do you believe that. >> bill clinton is both a pretty good policy wonk and pretty good politician. the truth is both -- >> and a good spokesman. >> and a good spokesman. both the politics and policy argue for just letting that go for a while. setting that aside. this is not a time for political
ambition. let's just try to get our problems solved. >> do you buy it? >> i'm a little skeptical. look at it this way. let's say you're not hillary clinton, you're a democrat who wants to be taken seriously in the next presidential race. you need to get started early. because hillary clinton has as much name recognition as you could possibly get. she has much of a head start as you could possibly have. so if you're someone else who wants to run an insurgent campaign, you need that extra time. it makes a lot of time for hillary clinton and for bill clinton, as her close surrogate to say, slow down there, other guys. don't get in the middle of this stuff. let's not get political because that actually just entrenches hillary clinton's huge advantage. >> here's where bill clinton is so smart, because what he said is, let's take another year and just kind of let things get done in the congress. because it is in his wife's interest, i would argue, for president obama to get some stuff done. things like immigration reform, for example. maybe some farm policy successes
that she can then say we started the building blocks toward this. whether it's iran, for example. so, you know, and then he sort of said, okay, give us a year and then i'll be able to tell you a little bit more, but let the president finish his work first. >> my own sense is she will run. she would still like to be president of the united states. the first woman president of the united states if her health is good. she had a blood clot in her brain not that long ago. if her health is good, she's got the strength and the stamina, paul, i believe she will run. >> i saw her last week, and i've never seen her look better. really, she looks terrific. been working out. i'm not worried about her health. i'm just, i am, if i can say in spanish, she will run. we hope and pray. >> we hope she runs. >> i hope and pray. >> here's the former president, gloria, listen to this, ryhan, listen to this as well. this is the former president, another exchange with juan carlos. this time on joe biden. >> what kind of president do you think vice president joe biden
would make if he runs? and if he wins? >> well, if he runs and he's a nominee, i'll try to help him win. i think the world of him. >> all right, gloria, if he runs, if hillary runs, will biden run? >> i do not believe joe biden would run against hillary clinton. i still believe that to be the case. and as we're parsing bill clinton's words, as we've done in the past, when he said, if biden runs, and if he's the nominee, i will support him. very careful about that. obviously. he would support his wife. but, you know, i do think there is a relationship and a real relationship between joe biden and hillary clinton and between joe biden and bill clinton. i believe that to be the truth. i believe they like each other. >> i believe they do, too. you do, too, as well. >> first, the president, then-senator biden, bond on issues of crime and violence against women where joe biden was a leader in the senate when bill clinton was senate. then now, of course, biden being the vice president, hillary being the secretary of state
working hand in hand on foreign policy, they're very close. >> they're the two democratic front-runners. who would the republicans fear more in a general election? >> i think hillary clinton is ultimately the more formidable democratic nominee. joe biden is widely seen as a democrat who does well with white working class voters. that's one reason why he was seen as a big asset to the obama ticket. that's one reason why he might, you know, prove relatively successful. but ultimately hillary clinton is someone to the surprise of some republicans who has a lot of appeal with women, particularly mod raterate and low-income women including some women who are republicans. hillary clinton has surprising crossover appeal. i'm not sure joe biden has the same crossover appeal particularly because he's been, frankly, so gaffe prone. >> juan carlos also asked the former president about comments he made saying that the current president, president obama, should honor his commitment to make sure if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. there seemed to be a little
tension at the time. this is how he explained what he said. >> i said nothing about this. not one word until the president, himself, spoke. i don't think you can find anybody in america who's worked harder for his re-election or supported this bill or went out of his way to explain the bill to the american people more than i did. >> get a quick thought from all three of you. paul? >> he's right, right? good point. i actually think president obama should have never made that pledge, but i think president clinton is saying something different saying just what president obama said. >> i think what president clinton is saying is i didn't do anything to hurt president obama. let me make this very clear to you that i only said that after the president said it and so i didn't step on anything the white house was trying to do. >> ryhan? >> i definitely think that president clinton's remarks harmed the white house and i think that's why they scrambled all the more. >> right. >> to backtrack from the pledge. >> all right. guys, thanks very much. good discussion, all three of you. when we come back, an estimate $10,000 in holiday
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just days before it's set to expire, the house voted to approve a ten-year extension of the law requiring all guns be detectable by metal screening machines. there are growing concerns about plastic guns made with 3-d machines that raise new questions about the bill. let's bring in chief congressional kor spcorrespondea bash with tdetails. >> it's almost been one year
since the deadly shooting spree in newtown, connecticut. the burst of activity for new legislation to expand background checks fizzled in the house, but today the house did vote to extend a law making sure metal detecters we go there at airports, sporting events, courthouses, actually work. the technology has moved so much, the ban might not be effective. the gun fired here was not purchased. it was print. yes, printed from a 3-d printer. it is new technology that is legal and could be for a while. thanks to a loophole in an expiring 25-year-old gun law which today the house voted to extend. >> a loophole can be closed down the line. that is a preferred scenario to no law at all. >> reporter: at issue, a ban on guns that cannot be detected by metal screening machines. like this plastic gun. the last time it passed, congress intentionally wrote the law to expire after ten years, in order to update it as technology evolved. then a gun you can print at home
was considered science fiction, but now up against a deadline, the ban will lapse this monday. lawmakers in both parties punted on making any updates. >> the legislation that the house passed doesn't address the fact that somebody could sit in their house and print out a 3-d gun. >> exactly. this law was enacted 25 years ago, and technology has advanced to the point where people can make their own plastic guns. and this law does no prohibit that. >> reporter: some democrats in the senate say they'll try to close loophesand the ban on undetectable firearms but they have powerful, familiar opposition, the national rifle association which said in a statement "the nra strongly opposes any expansion of the undetectable firearms act. including applying the ufa to magazines, gun parts, or the development of new technologies." lots of lawmakers, mostly republicans, agree with the nra. >> we need to make certain that the american people are safe. at the same time, we need to respect and appreciate that the second amendment to the
constitution is sacrosanct. >> reporter: given congressional deadlock even after last year's sandy hook massacre, they're thankful congress is at least on a path to extending the current ban on undetectable arms. >> allowing people to slip through metal detecters with guns to get onto airplanes is not a position that i don't think politicians can take particularly after 9/11. >> reporter: senate democrats will make an attempt next week to close the loopholes and ban new 3-d plastic gun and other weapons that allow people to take metal out and evade metal detecters. privately democrats admit that's not going to pass the senate and likely to extend a simple extension of the current law, loopholes and all. >> aren't a lot of people concerned terrorists could get hands on plastic guns that go through metal detecters and hijack a plane or whatever? >> absolutely. there's no question. a lot of people are concerned. as you just saw, there is a very powerful lobby against expanding and extending this ban.
including new technologies. and so that's what the people, in a bipartisan way who want to extend it, are up against. >> ha a story. thanks very much, dana, for that. let's get to other stories in "the situation room" we're monitoring right now. vice president joe biden, he's in japan where he assured leaders he'll talk to china about ongoing -- dispute between the two countries. china is aggressively staking claims, raising concerns a minor midair incident could spiral into a much larger global conflict. pope francis is certainly living up to his reputation as the pope of the people. he's now revealed he once worked as a nightclub bouncer in his home country of argentina. as well as swept floors and ran tests a chemical laboratory. unfortunately, he didn't go into details on either job or how it influenced his work as pontiff. a federal immigration judge is allowing president obama's uncle to remain in the united states.
69-year-old omar obama has lived in the united states for 50 years though his student visa expired back in 1970. he's been ordered deported multiple times. the judge says omar obama pays his taxes and meets the requirements for a green card. during the hearing, omar obama testified, and i'm quoting him now, "i do have a nephew, he's the president of the united states." when we come back, an estimated $10,000 in holiday donations allegedly stolen from the salvation army right here in the nation's capital, and the whole thing was caught on tape. you're going to find out how it happened. and this year, santa could be delivering your christmas gifts with fighter jets on his tail. we have details of what the u.s. military is now planning. this was the hardest decision i've ever had to make.
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this time of year, you'd certainly expect to see those red holiday kettles around your grocery store but not strewn across the floor with their contents. suspects were caught on surveillance video breaking into a salvation army facility, allegedly getting away with an estimated $10,000. our brian todd is joining us now with the very latest. what happened here? >> reporter: wolf, that happened not far from where we're standing. this is the iconic image, the bell ringers, the red kettle. but this american icon just took a major hit at a time when it can least afford it. surveillance video shows them moving in, one hooded, one masked. they move around for several
minutes. one's carrying bolt cutters. they're robbing from an american icon. the salvation army. >> busted out this glass here and ransacked the office. >> reporter: louis, the commander of the salvation army branch shows where the two suspects forced open several red kettles. >> they had to pry them open. >> reporter: it happened early sunday morning in southeast washington, d.c. >> they got into the safe, and we had some funds from the wednesday and friday. so it was three days' worth of kettle income that was here. >> reporter: how much? >> we're estimating about $10,000. >> reporter: a big loss for the salvation army during the holsay season and the millions it tries to help. >> a lot of them, we are truly their christmas. that's all the children are going to get to know that santa
claus has been there. >> reporter: that's true for the ringer who says that the salvation helped him get christmas presents last year. >> i'm real destroyed about what they did for the kids for they christmas. >> reporter: donors nearby equally disgusted. >> i think it's a shame that here's people giving money out to help a worthy cause and you have people who decide to make sort of an economic gain for themselves by stealing. >> reporter: stealing from an organization that provides more than a million toys for children, provides food, clothing, shelter. is the salvation army more susceptible to theft than other charities? how much money is in those kettles? probably more than people think. and that creates a vulnerability
for them. and that's why securing the money is so important. now the salvation army is trying to streamline and better secure its donations process. in some cities, you're going to be able to take your card and swipe it to donate, but these card readers have not made their way to washington yet. they're still not going to get completely away from people taking cold, hard cash and putting it in these buckets. they're not going to get away from that for a long time. thanks very much. we're going to the pentagon now where there's a controversy brewing over santa's journey around the world which some say will be accompanied by fighter jets. barbara, explain. >> well, it turns out that you know about 20 million people a year log onto this military website or even call the north american aerospace defense
command starting on christmas eve to track santa's movements around the world, just to make sure he gets to everybody. we've had a sneak peek at one of santa's test flights, and i want you to take a look at it. it couldn't be more militarized than this year. what do you see? he's got a couple of fighters on his tail. santa has full fighter and radar escort. now, you know, it looks very yen okay with us, but some child isvocacy groups are concerned they say the militarization of this longstanding tradition may have gone just a little bit too far. we have more of the sneak peek of santa's test flight. i want to you have a listen. >> this is for santa claus, code name, big red one. intel can confirm that jack frost and the abominable snowman
will not be a threat during this test flight. santa is most definitely not a threat. >> so the military told us that they did make it a little more realistic, a little more of a military operation this year. they wanted people to see what they really do. but again, some advocacy groups say, look, this is putting too much of a military spin on a holiday tradition and santa claus doesn't belong just to the u.s. military but to people around the world who celebrate christmas. no word if santa's going to use drones this year. >> thanks very much for that report. just ahead, we have new details about the engineer of that commuter train in new york that hurtled off the tracks. there's new detail of the violent crash that killed the actor paul walker. ox and pay one flat rate. i didn't know the coal thing was real.
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amazon's wild idea of delivery by drone has inspire add slough of parodies. >> reporter: no sooner had charlie rose expressed his wonder, no sooner had amazon's delivery drone lifted off in this video than it was attacked by mockers. >> landing on your doorstep while your family cowers inside. >> reporter: is it amazon prime air or hot air? will it join the flying taco and the flying cake? is it a bird? is it a plane? is it a publicity stunt? the taco-copter was definitely a stunt. >> i can finally realize my dream of eating a burrito launched from a nuclear
submarine. >> reporter: and the pizza was pie in the sky. a the flying sushi is still in its testing phase. wouldn't want that to happen to one of the high-end cakes to be delivered in china. oh, it was grounded over safety conditions. and then there was the book seller that thought it would be a hoot. o.w.l.s. they poked fun. just like the ones used to deliver letters to harry potter. there were jokes about disguising military drones as amazon. hey, saddam, remember ordering anything from amazon? in case you miss your amazon
droerngs one joker attempted a we attempted a drone delivery notice. your package has been destroyed along with the drone after it strayed into restricted airspace. amazon drones in colorado -- >> don't fly it in town. >> reporter: an opponent is trying to get drone hunting licenses. and we'll never forget the dutch artist whose beloved cat died. he it tax determinied and turned into this? what's next? a catcopter delivering pet food? happening now, train crash trauma. we have new information about the engineer's state of mind leading up to the deadly derailment. was he too tired to handle that very dangerous curve?
plus moment of impact. we have new video that shows the crash involving the "fast & furious" actor. and furious flyer. the u.s. supreme court hears the case of a man who got booted because he complained a lot and demanded upgrades. your frequent flyer rights are on the line. i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in the situation room. right now, federal authorities are digging deeper into the possibility that human error caused the deadly derailment of a new york metro train. you're looking the a live pictures of the crash site from our affiliate, dabc. after another day of investigation, they haven't found any indication that the brakes or signal systems malfunctioned. there are growing questions
about a state of mind and whether the engineer was fatigued. we have been following the investigation. renee, what are you learning? >> just moments ago a couple headlines came out. we know that a union rep just told reporters it is his understanding the engineer caught himself nodding at the controls before this deadly crash. he also said the engineer changed shifts november 17. he went from a night shift to a day shift, and from investigators, we now know they found no problems with the brakes. 46 year old william rockefeller, a metro north employee of 15 years was on day two of a five-day workweek when he told investigators he was dazed in the moments leading up to this deadly derailment. >> so the question is what was the driver's condition in the seconds before the crash.
and the answer to that is we don't know at this moment. >> reporter: the ntsb will look at whether fatigue played a role, routine in every investigation. the union says they are limited to 12 hour days but can work 16 hours if they have a four-hour break. but we don't know how many hours rockefeller worked. >> this was his regularly scheduled route, making two round trips each day, with a typical day lasting approximately nine hours. the engineer had been running this particular route full time since november 17. there's every indication that he would have had time to get full restorative sleep. >> reporter: the train left poughkeepsie at 9:54 sunday morning. the last stop about 20 minutes before the crash. in two minutes, the train accelerated from 60 to 82 miles per hour as it approached the 0-mile-per-hour curve. the ntsb isn't ready to say if
this was mechanical error or human error. >> there was truly excessive amount of speed. there was no equipment failure, no track problem. >> reporter: investigators cut their interview request rockefeller short monday because of his emotional state. a union rep telling cnn -- >> he's extremely distraught over it. and he feels for the families. >> reporter: whether investigators determine he was at fault or not, william rockefeller must live with the fact he was at the controls when the train left its path. lives were lost, and life changing injuries were suffered. all right. and additionally, we know that the blood alcohol tests all came back negative for the train crew. we also heard from new york's governor saying service will be restored to that hudson line by tomorrow, the majority of the service.
>> we've still got an investigation under way, a lot of unanswered questions. thanks very much. let's bring in mary schiavo. mary, it increasingly looks like human error. is that your conclusion yet? or is there more information we need to get? >> well, it certainly does point in that direction, and that would be consistent with many prior train accidents of the same set of facts. this is all very common scenario, unfortunately, when you have a train accident. but the comment about his work hours and nine hours would have been legal under federal rail regulations which are very much like the regulations for airline pilots. can you work eight hours or nine hours and you have to have an eight hour rest period between your duty times. they're pretty strict, in some ways stricter than air rules. >> if he says he was in a daze and there are now suggestions he was nodding off before going into this very dangerous curve,
and he was going 60 miles an hour, then 82 miles per hour in a curve where the speed limit was 30 miles per hour. that would be understandable for a train to go off the tracks. >> absolutely. and particularly on this particular curve, a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit, various parts of the track have various speed limits. it would go off the track, braking or not, 82 miles per hour at that curve, it would have gone off the track. and the railway has to do fatigue studies as required by federal regulations. so if this was a particularly fatiguing route, they should have done fatigue studies well in advance. >> i want you to watch something that we have on a very different story. we have some new video and information about the car crash that killed the fast and furious actor paul walker. initial autopsy results could be released at any moments. cnn has obtained surveillance video that gives us the closest
look yet at the crash. you can't see the car, but you can see trees swaying when the porsche hit the light pole. it then takes 50 full seconds before you see the first smoke that turns into a dark plume. i want to keep watching this surveillance video in real time, but what does it tell us about the crash if it took so long for the fire to erupt, the condition of walker and his racing partner during those critical 60 seconds? >> well, it tells since there was apparently no movement for them to get out of the car that the impact was so great that they were not able to get out of the car. and the fire taking 60 seconds to go suggests of course that the fuel tax was breached and the fuel leak eventually caught fire and the fuel was burning out. but that did not happen immediately. it was a subsequent event. so sadly, it does appear that
the accident did render them unable to exit the vehicle. >> we'll see the smoke coming up and the flames and the fire, but it does take a while to actually get to that. and you have to wonder what was going on. because it is, obviously heart breaking to see that. you can see the smoke now slowly beginning to emerge there in the middle of the screen. >> that's right. and people often think that the smoke or that the fire from a fuel tank is always an explosion, and it's not. sometimes it just burns like this. so that could have been a fuel tank breach. they don't necessarily explode like you often see on action films. so that, that would suggest that they were very grievously injured in the impact. >> certainly would. thank you very much. mary schiavo joining us. still ahead, more on this story, paul walker drove fast in the movies. but the porsche he died in was
very dangerous in the wrong hands. we're going to show you what was going on. >> i love the power. 612 horsepower. the harder you rev the engine the stronger it pulls. and another story we're following. if you're a frequent flyer, you're going to want to hear about the dispute that the united states supreme court heard today. is it okay for an airline to revoke your privileges if you demand too many upgrades? that story and move when we come back. ! i can't get her to warp. losing thrusters. i need more power. give me more power! [ mainframe ] located. ge deep-sea fuel technology. a 50,000-pound, ingeniously wired machine that optimizes raw data to help safely discover and maximize resources in extreme conditions. our current situation seems rather extreme. why can't we maximize our... ready. ♪ brilliant. let's get out of here. warp speed. ♪
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we have to bake them for one another. we can bake the world a better place one toll house cookie at a time. nestle. good food, good life. as we've reported, we're standing by for the autopsy results in the dilt of the "fast
& furious" actor paul walk ir. authorities are focusing in on the speed of the sports car he died in, a rare and expensive porsche that could top 200 miles per hour. the car wasn't for amateurs. >> reporter: paul walker died in a car most of us could only dream of, a porsche carrere gt capable of going over 200 miles per hour. price tag? $450,000. exotic car mechanic todd tribble has just finished some routine maintenance on this porsche gt in las vegas. an oil change costs $900. >> you can see the full carbon fiber construction. they're getting rarer and rarer.
most of the time when they get wrecked, there's not much left of them. >> reporter: there were 15 carrera gts in loss vegas. now there are only six. >> very hard car to drive. pure racer's car. you really need to know what you're doing when you drive them. and a lot of people are learning the hard way. >> reporter: this race car driver has driven a porsche carrera gt and also taught the actors. >> worked with all the stars of the film, paul and tyrese gibson. >> reporter: how was paul? >> he was by far the best driver. a natural car guy. >> reporter: he said for the experienced driver it's an experience few can match. >> the higher you river the engine the stronger it pulls. it's a great feeling.
you feel it right in the chest, pushing you back. >> reporter: but the car isn't forgiving of mistakes. electronic stability control is lacking. >> stability control is good at correcting slides. >> reporter: everyone that i spoke to told me pretty much the same thing. in the right hands, it's a great car. >> but a car like the carrera gt immediates to be driven with great respect because it has so much power and capability. >> reporter: martin savage, cnn, atlanta. now to your health and obama care. the white house is making a big push to promote the health care law. >> the president of the united states, barack obama u. >> reporter: it felt like a campaign event. because president obama is in a race he just might lose, the race to rescue obama care from its disastrous rollout.
>> today, the website is working well for the vast majority of users. >> reporter: surrounded by supporters, the president conceded that the rollout has clouded projections. >> every day i check to make sure that it's working better. and, you know, we've learned not to make wild promises about how perfectly smooth it's going to be at all times. >> reporter: and he issued a warning. >> we're not repealing it as long as i'm president. >> reporter: that was aimed at republicans who say that the president's rebranding effort is too little too late. >> we know that obama quare is still plagued with problems. and every american deserves relief from it. >> reporter: but more americans are signing up, like cnn "i-report"er mike meekens. a small business owner himself. >> today i was successful logging into the website. i had been trying fairly consistently for the last six
weeks. >> reporter: but there are still questions about whether the files ever make it to the insurance companies in one piece. the white house insisted that won't threaten anybody's coverage at the start of the year. >> i'm telling you that the contractor and the issuers are working together and will make sure that every 834 form both past and present, october 1 forward is accurate. >> reporter: but on a conference call with reporters, an administration official would not offer that same kind of guarantee. that official said that while these enrollment issues are being addressed, she also urged consumers to take the initiative to call insurance companies to double check that they indeed have the coverage that they purchased on it's one of the elements of this rebranding effort you might not hear a whole lot about, wolf. just ahead, frequent fliers
hey have a stake in a case that the supreme court heard today. stand by for details. could this happen to you? >> they called me out of the blue and said your status is done. and i was sure its with a prank. that's how outland dish it was. waffle bars... fancy robes... seems every hotel has something to love... so join the loyalty program that lets you earn free nights in any of them. plus, for a limited time, members can win a free night every day. only at
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your rights as a frequent flyer are on the line right now before the united states supreme court. this case is generating lots of buzz. the justices heard arguments today pitting the airline against a rabbi whose frequent flyer privileges were yanked because he was complaining too much.
>> almost always complaints get resolved without the lawyers getting involved. it's been said that rabbi benjamin glinsburg spends more time in the air than on the ground. he was dumped from his frequent flyer program, why? because he complained too much. they said he was abusing the program to get extra perks. he says his complaints were all on the up and up. >> it wasn't an issue where the peanuts were too salty or that they served pepsi instead of coke products. they were legitimate kearns and expressed in a very, very polite and cordial way. >> reporter: it's a david and goliath story. northwest had a contract that said it could do anything it
wanted and rules put in place during airline deregulation in the late '70s said northwest could not be sued over services. northwest attorney paul clement said they should not be forced to haggle over things in court. you cannot run an airline if every one of your judgments about take an unruly passenger off or abusive customer is going to be second guessed by a jury. frequent flyer programs have partners. lots of hotels, rental car companies and many other brands that feed into the programs. but gary, who blogs about frequent flyer programs, says lawsuits are rare. >> i think the biggest drawback comes from misconception of what's being offered by the programs. they have become very complicated. >> reporter: might be a tough
case, too. the members of the court appeared split over it. let's bring in our senior legal analyst, jeffrey toobin. how unusual is a case like this going before the justices? >> why i love this case is supreme court cases are usually about abstractions and complex ideas. i think everyone can understand this, which is how much can frequent flyer programs run the show? is this like a contract you have with an airline? or can they simply say, you know what? we changed our mind. it's like a discount or a premium, like the toy in your happy meal. this is up to the airline. that struggle, is this where frequent flyer miles fit within that commercial exchange, that's what the case is all about. >> and there are precedents potentially that could be set here that will affect consumers across the board, right? >> well, it's not just the precedent but the fact of
frequent flyer miles. millions of americans have these. lots of people rely on them for their vacations, for all sorts of personal travel, and they feel like it's a form of property. the airline is arguing it's not a form of property, that under a federal law, this is something that's a gift, that airlines gave them and they can tame them away for whatever reason they like. and but several justices said that just doesn't sound right. this is something we have come to expect. and airlines have to act at least somewhat rationally, or they can be sued. and that was the tension in the courtroom. and's got big stakes for a lot of people. >> are you surprised that the supreme court decided to hear these arguments? >> not really, wolf. you know, one of the dirty little secrets of the supreme court is they take lots of really boring cases. this case is a lot more interesting than most of them. and you can see them in the argument today. the justices were really into it. these were obviously nine people who have frequent flyer miles.
they didn't have to have this case explained to them. >> does this case pit liberal versus conservative justice or other factors? >> it's probably not like abortion or affirmative action, but it is true that by and large the conservative side with defendants in the, in these cases, when you have an individual suing a company, the more conservative members of the court send to side with the defendants. the more lib rat members tend to side with the plaintiffs. that's not 100%, but that was that division that you saw on display when it comes out. >> we certainly will. you'll be with us every acceste the way. thank you. crossfire with special guest debbie wasserman schultz and riens priebus starts right now.
tonight on crossfire, a rare joint appearance by the heads of both political parties. who's really in touch with the voters -- democrats or republicans? >> the house is going to listen to the american people and focus on their concerns. >> reporter: on the left, stephanie cutter, on the right, newt gingrich, debbie wasserman schultz and reince priebus. who has edge heading into 2014 and 2016? tonight on crossfire. welcome to crossfire. i'm newt gingrich on the right. >> and i'm stephanie cutter on the left. in the crossfire, the heads of both political parties. i'm guessing that the two of you will not be agreeing on much. you'll be disagreeing on just about everybo about everything. but one of you is dealing with
problems in your own party, and that's the republican civil war. they have a choice between listening to those who want to kofrn and those who want to say no. is there a tent big enough for them all, or is one of these x factions going to break off? >> i'm thrilled that you are concerned about the republican party at a time when the president has a 31% approval for economic policy, under 40% on nine out of ten farm policy issues. but i appreciate you taking -- >> you know who is least popular than obama care? the republican party. >> in the crossfire tonight, republican party chairman reince priebus along with debbie wasserman schultz. the congressman has just published a new book, for the sdprexe next generation. we're delighted to have you here. >> thank you very much. >> i'm